Retirement fits Annika Sorenstam
People see the great things that athletes do, how they win and are successful at their sport. What they don't see is how hard you work to make that happen. You push hard, you go to extremes and you sacrifice a lot of things. There are the practice, the travel, the tournaments. You have to be focused. After awhile, I think for everyone it becomes a job.
It did not come as much of a surprise to me when Serena Williams said she didn't love tennis anymore. Andre Agassi said something very similar years ago. You would be surprised how many athletes feel that way at some point in their careers.
Stepping away from golf was easy for me. I had achieved everything I wanted to and more than I had ever dreamed of. I set so many goals for myself and reached most of them.
Could I win another tournament? Yes. But did it matter if I won another one? The answer was no. So getting married and starting a family was the obvious and natural thing for me when I decided the time was right.
I had moments leading up to it, when I was traveling and competing, when the intensity just wasn't there anymore. At the end of 2007, I started thinking about the future. I started thinking about whether my heart was in the place it needed to be to continue playing golf. I found myself thinking more about my businesses than about my results on the course. I played one more season, and at the end of 2008, I was very comfortable in walking away.
I wanted to have a family. Now, looking at my two children (Ava, 2, and William, 1), I have to pinch myself sometimes. I am a mother. I am so lucky to have been able to be a mother and still have had a career. It used to be about me and golf, and now it is about them. I used to play 150 to 200 rounds of golf a year. Last year, I played 10.
I tell people now, even with all the businesses I still have related to golf, that my kids are my Grand Slam. I am very happy to have stepped away when I did. I am glad I did not wait any longer.